Thursday, February 28, 2008

What is the next Technology Tsunami?

It's been a couple of weeks since my last poston this blog, mostly because it has got so busy at MYOB, which is common for this time of year. But a conversation over lunch with a good friend got me thinking of the difference between 'Technology Tsunamis', and 'Technology Rising Tides'.

Firstly, what's the difference between the two.

Well, a Technology Rising Tide is where there is a gradual change or shift in what people (or businesses) use technology for. Whereas a Technology Tsunami is a sudden, sometimes unanticipated change. I would describe Tsunamis as an imminent change, something likely to happen in the next twelve months, while a Rising Tide could take several years.

Here's some examples that I have experienced over the last twenty years:
EFTPOS - this is a Rising Tide, in that people became aware of the availability, and slowly started to adopt it over time. The banks persuaded us further by making the alternate (cheques and cash) less convenient and (sometimes) more costly. Linked in with how easy EFTPOS is to use, and the wider acceptance of credit cards, it had a semi-predictable outcome.
EFile - this is a Rising Tide. The IRD encouraged Tax Agents to use it, but didn't enforce it. It's now very rare to find a Tax Agent with more than 100 clients that doesn't use EFile, particularly with the introduction of Internet connectivity in the last few years.
Windows - another Rising Tide, although there was broad interest with the release of Windows 95, it wasn't significant enough overall to give it Tsunami status. The big change for Windows came with Y2K.
Y2K - a Tsunami. This was unstoppable, and had significant effect on the established technology base. DOS was drowned by the Y2K Tsunami.
Australian GST - another Tsunami, and a great opportunity for technology, as the Australian Government subsided the adoption of software. For example, this had a significant effect on the success of MYOB.
NZ Kiwisaver - a Rising Tide. Since the NZ government didn't make it easy for businesses to adopt technology to make their life easier, this will be a gradual change, similar to the adoption of EFile.
Australian Superannuation - a Rising Tide, similar to NZ Kiwisaver.
The Internet - perhaps the biggest ever Technology Rising Tide.

So why am I even bothering to talk about this? I guess I am intrigued to see what Tsunamis might be on the horizon, and what Rising Tides we are currently experiencing. So I'm keen to hear your thoughts on this.

8 comments:

Trevor said...

I reckon the next major shift will be mobile computing - iPhone style. With Google offering up its new platform, Android, I think there will be a lot of companies following Apple. As an example of how iPhones are used differently to preceding smart phones Google announced that 50 times more searches originated from iPhones than any other mobile. You will be writing your blog on an iPhone like mobile in a coffee shop or at the beach this time next year.

Stuart Bale said...

Trevor: Certainly an interesting thought, and something I feel I can do today with the technology I have now.
I am cynical about the feasability of quickly typing on such a device, as the thought of typing out my lengthy blog without a keyboard is scary.
I'd class this as a Rising Tide, would you say the same?

Trevor said...

I think this will happen more quickly than you think. There has been some criticism of the iPhone keyboard because it only goes lengthwise on the screen for the browser and is too small for the other apps but a developer's kit is being released and Android is open so I feel this will be sorted soon.

jeremy.beavon said...

I reckon optical processor could create a bit of a stir if they became mainstream. They're supposed to be about 1000 times faster than the processors we have today. They perform 8 trillion operations a second apparently. Imagine an XBox with the processing power of the Weta or Dreamworks render farms! :) They would probably change the face of the web: 128 SSL security: ha, yeah right.

Stuart Bale said...

Jeremy: An interesting prospect. If PCs could have 1,000 times the processing power they have today, without significant increase in cost or change to the existing applications, and it happened almost overnight, then I think that is a definite Technology Tsunami.
Do you have a link to an article on this you could post here?

jeremy.beavon said...

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/ptech/10/31/israel.lenslet.reut/
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/10/31/israelis_ship_eight_teraops_optical/

Stuart Bale said...

Jeremy: Thanks for the links, although I notice they are 4 1/2 years old. I guess I was looking for something that is current?

Trevor said...

This is just a small sample of what you can do with an iPhone right now. Who knows were they will be at in a years time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hjw6UD3HVc